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Useful Tropical Plants

Aloe arborescens

Mill.

Asphodelaceae

+ Synonyms

Aloe arborea Medik.

Aloe frutescens Salm-Dyck

Aloe fruticosa Lam.

Aloe fulgens Tod.

Aloe mutabilis Pillans

Aloe natalensis J.M.Wood & M.S.Evans

Aloe perfoliata arborescens (Mill.) Aiton

Aloe perfoliatum Meyen

Aloe principis (Haw.) Stearn,

Aloe salm-dyckiana Schult. & Schult.f.

Aloe sigmoidea Baker

Catevala arborescens (Mill.) Medik.

Pachidendron principis Haw.

Common Name:

Aloe arborescens
Plant growing by the coast
Photograph by: Fagg, M.
Image credit to Australian National Botanic Gardens
Aloe arborescens Aloe arborescens Aloe arborescens Aloe arborescens

General Information

Aloe arborescens is an evergreen succulent shrub-like plant growing up to 5 metres tall. The stem, which is up to 30cm in diameter, branches at or near the base and is much branched above[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
]. Each stem is topped with a rosette of long, grey-green leaves armed with conspicuous pale teeth[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
The plant is sometimes gathered from the wild for medicines and as a local source of nectar. It is grown commercially in some areas as a medicinal plant and is frequently used for hedges and living fences. It is also commonly grown as a garden ornamental[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Known Hazards

The sap of Aloe species contains anthraquinones. These compounds have several beneficial medicinal actions, particularly as a laxative, and many species of Aloe are thus employed in traditional medicine. Whilst safe in small doses and for short periods of time, anthraquinones do have potential problems if used in excess. These include congestion and irritation of the pelvic organs[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Long term use of anthraquinone laxatives may also play a role in development of colorectal cancer as they have genotoxic potential, and tumorigenic potential[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.

Range

Eastern and southern Africa - Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, S. Africa.

Habitat

Found at elevations from sea level up to 2,800 metres in montane grassland amongst rocks and in open evergreen forest, in the eastern border mountains and outliers with high local rainfall and drizzle in the dry season; also in coastal forest[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height3.00 m
PollinatorsSunbirds, Bees
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the semi-arid to moist tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 26°c, but can tolerate 9 - 38°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It can be killed by temperatures of -1°c or lower[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. So long as the plant is not wet, it can tolerate occasional temperatures down to about -4°c[
423
Title
Desert Tropicals
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The main focus of the site is succulent plants, but it also contains information on a wide range of other species. Usually at least one good photograph, plus basic information about the plant and its cultivation.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 300 - 1,700mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Succeeds in full sun or light shade, requiring a well-drained, light to medium soil[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
,
423
Title
Desert Tropicals
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The main focus of the site is succulent plants, but it also contains information on a wide range of other species. Usually at least one good photograph, plus basic information about the plant and its cultivation.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.2 - 7[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
This species hybridizes freely with several other Aloe species[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
Aloe species follow the Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). CAM plants can fix carbon dioxide at night and photosynthesize with closed stomata during the day, thus minimizing water loss. This, plus their succulent leaves and stems, and the presence of a thick cuticle, makes them well adapted to dry conditions[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Edible Uses

The flowers are sucked for their sweet nectar[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

In Japan the leaves are used as a vegetable and as a health food because they are thought to overcome constipation. Parts of the stem with a number of leaves attached are marketed as a vegetable[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The plant is an important ingredient of 'Kidachi aloe candies', a popular sweet in Japan, enjoyed for its tangy yoghurt flavour[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Medicinal

This species is one of the main sources of Aloe for medicinal use - preparations made from it are sold as over-the-counter drugs for the acceleration of gastric secretion, as a purgative and for dermatological use[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. In Ecuador, where the plant is cultivated, it is considered the first treatment for any type of scratch, bite, or burn, and is used in hospitals as a primary treatment for burns up to the third degree[
372
Title
Flowers of India
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.flowersofindia.net/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A wed site of native Indian plants, plus cultivated and naturalized species. It has good quality photos and terse details on more than 3,000 species and cultivars.
]. Worldwide attention was drawn to the possible value of the gel prepared from this and other Aloe species after the second World War, when skin burns of victims of the nuclear bombs on Japan were successfully treated with it[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The gel of this species contains much higher concentrations of the primary compounds present in other aloes, and this higher concentration is responsible for the faster and more effective action of the gel against skin conditions[
372
Title
Flowers of India
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.flowersofindia.net/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A wed site of native Indian plants, plus cultivated and naturalized species. It has good quality photos and terse details on more than 3,000 species and cultivars.
].
As in most Aloe species, the leaf exudate of this species contains anthraquinone derivatives such as aloin and hydroxyaloins[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Although aloin is inactive as a laxative, it is activated in the digestive tract by Eubacterium species to the compound aloe-emodin anthrone, which is an effective laxative[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Although some observations indicate that in diarrhoea induced by aloin, increased water content might be more important than stimulated peristalsis, the side effects of prolonged use point to a griping effect on the colon. Therefore, aloin should preferably be administered in combination with an antispasmodic to moderate its griping action[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
In any case, anthraquinone laxatives should not be used for longer than 8 - 10 days, or by children younger than 12 years. Contra-indications also include pregnancy, breastfeeding, intestinal inflammations and haemorrhoids[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Possible side effects of aloin include congestion and irritation of the pelvic organs. Anthraquinone laxatives may play a role in development of colorectal cancer as they have genotoxic potential and also tumorigenic potential in rodents[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
It has been claimed that aloin is also responsible for antihistamine and anti-inflammatory activity[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Both aloin and aloeresin B have skin-whitening activity[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The gel contains polysaccharides and glycoproteins. Apart from mannan and glucomannan, arboran A and arboran B have been identified, which have hypoglycaemic effects. The structure-function relationship of polysaccharides from gel from different Aloe species is still subject to research. Biological activity is thought to be, at least partly, due to immunomodulating effects of these polysaccharides[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The leaf epidermis contains lectins (aloctin A and aloctin B) that inhibit the growth of fibrosarcoma in animals. The leaf powder showed protective effects against human carcinogenesis[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
In 2002 the United States Food and Drug Administration withdrew the ‘generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE)’ status for over-the-counter drugs based on aloe exudates[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Aloe arborescens gel works as a synergist of neomycin sulphate in eye drops; they are useful in the treatment of inflammation and infections of the eye[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Freeze-dried leaves have shown a 70% growth inhibition of Trichophyton mentagrophytes (one of the fungi causing athlete’s foot in humans)[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A leaf decoction is given to women to ease childbirth[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The leaves are eaten as a vegetable as a treatment for constipation[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The split or crushed fresh leaves are widely used to treat burns and wounds[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is frequently grown in drier areas of the tropics as a hedge and living fence[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It makes an excellent, impenetrable hedge[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. Homesteads that have been abandoned for over a century can still be traced thanks to surviving fences[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - sow in a sandy, well-drained potting soil in a warm, shady position in standard seed trays. Germination takes about three weeks. Cover with a thin layer of sand (1 - 2mm), keep moist and the seedlings can be planted out in individual bags or containers as soon as they are large enough to handle[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
Stem cuttings 3 - 10cm long[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. A branch or stem can be cut off, allowed to dry for a day or so until the wound has sealed, and then planted in well-drained soil or sand. It need not be rooted in any particular place and then transplanted, but can be placed directly into its permanent place in the garden. It is important to remember not to water the cutting too heavily; overwatering may cause it to rot[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2020-08-14. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Aloe+arborescens>

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